Recipe Challenge 42 and 43

This week has been busy but a normal kind of busy so I am choosing to be thankful! We did manage to squeeze in two new recipes both of which are repeating so that is the best of everything.

First is Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni, let me start by saying that I have found very few things that I absolutely love the instant pot for. I did learn to use the saute feature for this recipe so that is a plus as well! This is is a quick and easy replacement for hamburger helper. A bonus was it used alot of ingredients that I have on hand. The one exception was the cheddar cheese soup. I am going to place an order with Amazon to get this stocked up now. I decided to use jumbo elbow as well to improve the texture. I did not measure the last cup of cheese and was actually told that it might could use less cheese. I am going to use this again for a quick filling meal during the school year.

A bad storm on Friday night left us with a couple of broken tomato plants which meant was had a couple green tomatoes. Matt decided to try and make fried green tomatoes. Everyone but Lily decided they were good. This will be a good way to use up tomato if we need to. I thought they were really good but just not something I would attempt to make.

The official count is
Repeating 22
Maybe 8
No 12

Only 9 more new recipes to try before reaching our goal!

  1. The garden is not producing as much as I had anticipated but it is producing just enough for us to eat! For example on Wednesday, I picked 2 cucumbers, a squash, a zucchini and couple of tomatoes. For dinner on Thursday, I combined the zucchini, squash and grilled chicken packs from the school for dinner. For lunch on Friday, four of us ate tomato sandwich! I think this is the right size garden for the future as well!
  2. We are heading to the beach in one week! I am so excited to have some really downtime with minimal expectation of effort from me! The ocean is my favorite place so there is no bad time there.
  3. We have washed 10 loads of clothes today. This includes everyone sheets and comforters! I am most excited because everything but Lily’s was hung out to dry so that we did not waste money! Bonus the sunshine smell should last a few days.
  4. Zach has had 4 baseball games this week and three are scheduled for next week. This makes for some very busy evenings! So far we have tolerated the heat ok!
  5. Sad news- I have exactly 4 weeks or one month left of my summer break! I am really enjoying sleeping late, reading books and keeping ahead of my task! I do look forward to going back to work and getting a normal routine in place if this is even possible.

Monday Menu Planning

I am excited because, we were able to clean out and organize the freezers in the house over the weekend. I ended up only throwing away one single pork chop but the kids found lots of breakfast items to enjoy. During the month of July my overall goal is to reduce grocery spending. We also are planning a beach trip so we will plan at least 50% of the meal that we eat to take with us to save money. I also want to fill in my pantry whenever possible. I realized that I have several recipes that call for Cheddar Cheese soup. I stopped and purchased a can today on sale for $1.50. By using Amazon Subscribe and Save, I can purchase for $1.25 a can. I have a shipment set up for the end of the month. I am hoping to reduce trips to the store and expense by doing things like this. Summer foods are definitely dominating this weeks menu.

Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King Sunday-Breakfast bowls.(Remained was made into Breakfast burritos) Monday- , Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza or omelets

Lunch-  Saturday-Chicken sandwich or pizza bits Sunday- Wings from East Coast wings. Monday- pasta salad Tuesday- Egg rolls from school Wednesday-(ham and cheese sliders school). Thursday- Salad, Friday- corn dogs from school.

Dinner-  Saturday-pasta salad Sunday-left-overs Monday Steak fajitas Tuesday- Cold Plate Wednesday- Instant Pot cheeseburger Macaroni Thursday- Sandwiches or left-overs Friday- sloppy joes.

Saving on Saturday!

I have some fun savings to report this week. Mom, myself, Kendall and Zach headed out yesterday morning to check out some yard sales. I was able to purchase a snow village accessory for $3.

This awesome float for $3
This plastic pot was fifty cent.

Unfortunately, I did not realize that the airplane plant that I had planned to move to the pot was actually 2 plants. I was able to recover a plain black pot from my building and will leave it outside until it turns cold or I can find a matching or different pot to place in before coming inside.

This morning before it got so hot, we spent the morning outside making some updates and weeding. Total spent today was ZERO!

First we added this small platform under the rain barrel to allow us to fill the watering cans without someone having to hold it level. The wood was left from the platform we built this spring.

Finally, because the rain barrel wash out is developing deep holes in the garden, we headed under the house to pull out the remainder of this black pipe that was purchased probably 7 years ago and never used. We decided to go ahead and place it in front of the flower beds as the telephone poles are 30 years old and starting to rot away.

The mud should wash away in a couple of weeks. We also found a basket that I am going to hang in a closet to hold potatoes and several trash cans that we repurposed to hold toys!

I am excited to use items we already had to make needed improvements!

Recipe Challenge #41

It is hot outside YAY! We are moving toward more summer type meal which means some good old fashion salads and pasta salads. So this week we only have one new recipe. But on the bright side it is one that was cool and definitely a repeat!

Easy Pasta Carbonara is from the site Southern Savers This is probably one of the sites I use the most for finding awesome deals. During the last year, she has begun to include recipes. This one will definitely by a repeat. Lily made the recipe and used elbow noodles as her pasta. The only complaint that was given was that the noodles were barely done. So next time she will cook the noodles even two minutes longer and it will be perfect.

The official count is
Repeating 21
Maybe 8
No 12

I am surprised to see that we are averaging 50% approval rate for this. Some things I really did not expect!

June in Review

June is definitely my favorite month of the year! The weather is hot and we get to spend lots of time in the pool because Summer break begins. Things are slowly starting to return to more normal. The pool is open, we are attending church and baseball is happening. We also look at our budget and make any adjustments or changes that are needed. This year that was a very positive thing as we were able to move money from braces to other areas. After the kids summer camp was cancelled and I was able to score free for now airline tickets for our Disney trips, we decided to spend a week in July at the beach! After some research, we were even able to get a condo on the oceanfront for a week for $1900! I am so looking forward to some beach time!

Gardening- continues to be a challenge this month. The weather is simply not cooperating. We have been able to harvest lots of snap peas, one cucumber , a batch of green beans, strawberries, squash and zucchini. Currently we are eating just about everything we are harvesting. Squash bugs have attacked and we have lost several plants. I am hopefully for the tomatoes to start this week, I have picked two but both were rotten. Cucumbers are blooming so we continue to hope! The kids are most excited because they spotted 2 growing watermelons when mowing yesterday.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $640.36. After looking back, I realized that I have not been able to maintain this budget at all this year. I have been over every single month. My grocery average is $722 a month YIKES! I am not going to increase the budget yet but this will be something I closely monitor for the rest of the year. We have been purchasing alot of meat and prior to COVID, we had decreased our stockpile significantly. Currently I am comfortable with our stockpile and don’t have any gapping holes. I am thinking that our expenses may decrease in this area and if so that will help me to determine exactly where we need to be in this area. For July, I do not plan to actually spend any time in the grocery stores except to grab things we need for our beach trip. I most likely will do a huge trip the last week of July in preparation for returning to school in August.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $186.13 the total for the month. This is the lowest spending on gas in a very very very long time. The price of gas is starting to rise and we are planning to travel this month. One of the benefits of having a significant decrease in our gas budget during the three of the last 6 months is that we are able to pay off debit. We are currently using a credit card for all gas purchases. Any additional money have been used to reduce the balance of this card. I am projecting that by the end of the year we should have this card completely paid off and will be transferring any excess after groceries to reduce another card. In July, I need to put tags on the van. I expect we should still be under $500 budget for the month of July.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! This may become a little more difficulty in the next 2-4 months as the Untied States is currently experiencing a cash shortage. I do have several options so we may do a hybrid system. No spend days are 5 this month YAY! My goal for July is 5 days as well.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 15 for the month! I am becoming more consistent!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk 7 days this month! It is not the goal but a significant improvement over last month!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Not there at all!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have tried 40 new recipes this year! I am planning to finish out the remaining 12 over the summer but time will tell.

Earnings_ $30. This is probably the lowest earning month in a long long time. The economy is not great and I suspect this may be the beginning of the end for swagbucks. Matt did not even earn a single card this month so at least we should double this amount next month! But free money is free money!

July appears to be a busy but fun month. We have swim team, baseball, our beach trip and baseball camp! Because of COVID-19. I will be returning to work the second week of August so July is really our last summer I plan to enjoy!

Saving on Saturday

Kindle Unlimited– I first saw this particular offer in May, 2 Free Months of Kindle Unlimited. I LOVE to read but usually don’t really have time to read more than a blog on the internet. Since I started working in the school system, I have decided to use the summer to catch up on reading real books. I waited until the week before finishing school to activate this deal. My original plan was to read at least one book a week. The plan should end in September so the timing was perfect. So far, I have read 10 books in two weeks. This free subscription has saved me at least $20. I currently have another 10 books downloaded to read! I am really good at keeping up with cancellation so I don’t think I will have any cost involved in this!.

Staying home/ keeping track of spending. I managed to have 2 total no spend days this past week. I am avoiding shopping in stores especially with the new mask requirement in my state! By not even window shopping, I am able to not spend any money. For example, total grocery spending was $4.21 for the week! We have finally restocked our pantry and freezers. My plan is to use what we have on-hand for the next 3-4 weeks and then do one big trip in August before returning to work. I am continuing to watch sales and buying items we need or want at the best price. For example this week, I ordered a basketball goal from Walmart for $95. I have been looking for a goal for the kids since march and this goal is actually only $15 more than what I have found at yard sales and on Facebook. The best thing is that the goal will be delivered!

Using or storing as much fresh fruit and veggies as possible. We are receiving a summer food delivery from our school district. This provides 6 breakfast and six lunches per child each week. This is really alot of food and the majority of it has been fresh! This week, I have made homemade apple/pear sauce, cooked and froze spinach, made a packet for squash casserole! I am very pleased to be able to continue to use this food or store for future use.

Meatless meal and left-overs. Don’t get me wrong we are meat eaters but with all the fresh items we have sometimes change is good. Several lunches this week have been sautéed veggies. Saturday, I made sautéed zucchini, a batch of green beans, creamed spinach. and pulled out potato salad, cucumber and onion salad for lunch. For dinner, baked sweet potatoes so two out of three meals were meatless. Sunday, the plan is left-overs for one meal and to reheat the egg rolls from school meals for another meal. That means that both days this weekend have been out of the fridge with basically no cost!

How have you been saving money?

Recipe Challenge 38,39 and 40

First only 12 more recipes to try and I will have met my goal! WOOT WOOT WOOT WOOT! It has been fun trying new things and I am really enjoying trying to find recipes to use the items we have on hand. This week we tried 3 new recipes of which two were definitely to use fresh produce on hand so that it would not go bad!

Garlic Parmesan Sugar Snap Peas- We are definitely coming to the end of growing for our sugar snap peas and I had about three cups sitting in the refrigerator. Kendall is try of eating them raw! These were just ok. Most of them got ate but it is definitely something I would not do again. I used them as a side dish for egg roll in a bowl. Which is also a fairly new recipe that I have made maybe once before. I had purchased an extra bag of cole slaw mix for BBQ chicken salad last week not sure how much I would need. This was a great way to use that bag of mix along with a couple of extra packs of carrots. The egg roll in a bowl, I actually finished for lunch but everyone else thought it was kind of of bland but their favorite part of an egg roll is the outside anyway.

Slow Cooker Pear and Ginger Applesauce The school lunches have significantly improved in both quality and variety for the summer. We are receiving alot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Pears for some reason were the item of the week for the first week. We received a total of 12. Apples appeared to be a runner up as we received 10. We did use most of the apples for fried apples but the second week brought another batch of apples. I decided to try this just to use 6 pears and 6 apples. It is awesome, everyone ate it hot the first day and I have tried it cold the second day. This is a definite repeat when we get more pear. My mother said her pear trees are loaded so this may be something to freeze in the fall.

Cheesy Corn Dog muffins I have actually printed this recipe three times. I discovered when I was trying to organize recipes. I made it on a baseball day! Everyone but Matt seemed to really like them. So I will put them in a repeat stack. They will be a great think to eat at the pool or beach or even in the car as they don’t make alot of mess.

The official count is
Repeating 20
Maybe 8
No 12

Monday Menu Planning

Last week did not go at all as I had planned on Monday. The weather turned really cool and we decide to change things up. The good news is that we did not eat out extra(1 time on Saturday) and we had everything we needed here. School deliveries were a pleasant surprise with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. My pantry and freezer are officially stocked up but I will continue to replace things we eat all of and add things as I find them on sale.

Breakfast– Saturday-Sausage crescent rolls Sunday-bagels Monday- , Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, pancakes,  oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza or omelets

Lunch-  Saturday-Bad Daddy Burger Sunday- Left-overs. Monday- corn dogs (school) Tuesday- sautéed zucchini and squash with other dipping veggies Wednesday-(ham and cheese sliders school). Thursday- Salad, Friday- left-overs

Dinner-  Saturday-veggies and fruit Sunday-quesadillas using left-overs Monday- Chicken Sandwich with left over French fries Tuesday- Olive Garden Chicken pasta Wednesday- Egg Roll in a bowl Thursday- Cheesy corn dog muffins Friday- Spaghetti and meatballs.