I have definitely up my meal planning game this week. We actually chose the meals we wanted for the week on Saturday prior to my grocery shopping. I did end up spending $80 at Walmart for groceries which puts me at $111 for the month. On Sunday, we spent about 2 hours getting everything prepared for the week. I realized last week that I need to go ahead and get my lunches all prepped as well. I am not a morning person and even grabbing left-overs add an additional 5 minutes to my mornings.
Breakfast- Saturday,-Egg sandwhiches. Sunday,-Toast with either peanutt butter or nuttella and grapes or banana. Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, French toast or toast. This is the easiest meal of the day!
Lunch–Saturday-Chicken wraps , Sunday-Seasame chicken in the crockpot. This is a new recipe and EVERYONE enjoyed it! Zach is taking lunchables for 4 days and pasta salad. Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwich. My plan is to take pasta salad, salad and chicken salad wrap and one day of leftovers. I made egg salad, chicken salad and pasta salad for lunches this week.
Dinner – Saturday- Lemon Basil Chicken salad Sunday–Left-overs or sandwhich (The fridges are over-flowing). Monday- Hamburger and French Frie. Tuesday– Sandwhiches or left-overs. Wednesday–KFC bowls (to prep for this day, I have already made mashed potatos and got all the ingredients together for gravy). Thursday– Pork Chops Friday- Meatloaf muffins and some veggies.
We are doing well with sticking to our weekly menu plan and I have been really focus on keeping out grocery spending as low as possible for the next couple of months. One of the things that I am focusing on is to use things in the freezer and pantry before going out to buy things. I noticed last week that I had two remaining packs of chicken thighs in the freezer. I found these on sale for $0.95 cent a pound in June. Read about the other deals I scored that day as well. Each of the packets had been reduced to $2.10. This weekend, I knew I needed to add some lunch items and also wanted to give some variety to our weekend. The OT at work shared an awesome recipe for Basil Lemon Chicken Salad and I decided I definitely wanted to make some this weekend. So yesterday (Friday) I went down and pull out the two packs of chicken. I was feeling lazy so I threw both packs in the crockpot added some salt and pepper and turned it on low for 12 hours. I did wake up last night at least once and think…”that smells good”.
After the ballgame, we were hungry. Matt, Kendall and I made a chicken and tzatziki sauce wraps. Zach decided plan chicken and ranch would be better for him. For dinner, I made the Lemon Basil Chicken salad which was a huge hit. Matt is not a fan of chicken salad and is really not a fan of chicken thighs but he even said how good it was! We have been able to eat both meals today from those chicken thighs and I have made a huge container of regular chicken salad that will probably provide at least 7 lunches! I threw the skin and bones back in the crockpot and was able to get 20 cups of chicken stock in the freezer as well! I count the chicken stock as totally free! So that is a total of 13 meals for $5.20 or forty cent each for the meat portion which is always the most expensive part! I will definitely call that a win!
I am really trying to control and maintain our grocery budget to under $100 for the month of September. In theory and on paper it may sound like a fairly simple thing to accomplish for several reasons. First we have almost 90 dinner meals prepped and in the freezer. Second, we have a nicely stocked pantry and enough additional food for another month at least. And third, my mother is always really generous when she comes for dinner and brings desert. But the reality is that we are a full time family of five eating 3 meals a day with some days becoming a family of 7 or 8. Things seem to go pretty quickly in this house. This week, we are out of bread! I had already planned to stop one day this week to pick up buns for the sloppy joes that we have planned on Friday. But I also need to buy some sandwich bread and bagels as well. I ended up with some extra alone time on Wednesday as the kids and Matt were all involved in church activities. I decided to stop by Aldi. I am really pleased that I managed to limit my spending to $8.07 which included 3 dozen eggs, graham crackers, peanut butter bars and vanilla wafers in addition to bagels, buns and bread! Total grocery spending for the month $29.72
I did spend a few minutes walking around the store and realized that prices are starting to creep up! English muffins that I regularly purchased this summer for $0.95 were $1.25, the peanut butter bars that were $0.85 are not $0.92! Even my $0.65 loaf of bread was up to $0.85! Yikes I have got to keep a watch on prices because at some point we will need to increase our budget.
Today, I am going to list a couple of the ways we have been saving money over the past week.
Hung out 8 loads of sheets and bedding to line dry on Monday (Labor Day)
Packed lunch all week.
Planned ahead with dinners and stuck to the plan even after some very long days. Including using left-overs for one full meal this week.
Re-using water bottles at least once while at home.
Keeping the temperature at 74 during the day and 72 at night even if that meant someone was hot.
Used a gift card from Swagbucks to pick up “needed” items from Walmart.
Purchased lunchables on a one day sale at Food Lion for forty nine cent each. The regular price is $2.49 each.
Reduced the amount of Diet Coke and replacing with water on a daily basis.
Saving energy by running the dishwasher, washer and dryer at night without adding heat to the house.
How did you save money this week?
Last week went really smoothly except for the day, Matt forgot to put the pork roast in the crockpot. We decided to have left overs for that meal which worked out fine. I was able to find and purchase chicken breast for $0.99 a pound this week. We purchased a total of 25 pounds. 3 of the 5 pound packs were combined with a bottle of Italian dressing for grilled chicken. The remaining two packs I split into 4 bags to be used for crockpot meals. This week our schedule is starting to pick up with something on every night except for Thursday. I guess that balances out with Monday being Labor Day and everyone home.
Breakfast- Saturday,- Eggs, sausage toast and grits. Sunday, Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, Lunchable brunch French toast or toast. I purchased some everything bagels this week to add to the mix.
Lunch–Saturday-left-over pizza , Sunday-Pulled pork sandwiches. Monday- Sandwiches. Zach is taking lunchables and Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwich. My plan is to take pasta salad, salad and maybe a couple of days of left-overs or wraps depending on what is available. Matt purchased a bag of chicken nuggets to use in his lunch this week. Everyone is enjoying the extra junk food that is available because of left-overs from Zach’s birthday party.
Dinner – Saturday- Pasta salad- I added fresh tomatoes and green peppers, carrots from the fridge and cut up chicken breast that were left over. Sunday–Shrimp Scampi- packet in my closet and used left-over spaghetti pasta from the refrigerator. Monday- Grilled chicken- I am hoping for leftovers but this depends on the number of people that come for dinner. Tuesday– Taco Pasta Wednesday–Baked potatoes in crockpot. All three kids have a orthodontist appointment so I wanted something soft. Thursday– Cheeseburger Pizza- from the freezer. Friday- Leftovers or sandwiches because I have a meeting.
Financial- We are doing ok. Spending at the beach is always expected and fun. This year with school starting we have had a ton of extra expenses including school fees, baseball sign up, cheer uniform and Lexington Youth Theater sign up fees. I have been anticipating starting a second job again to increase our income but this has not materialized yet either. I am waiting and praying for God’s will and provision. We did manage to have 4 no spend days in August or one per week. This is a decrease from July. I am going to set a goal of 15 for September.
Grocery Spending-$425.53. This is actually less than last year and more than my previous two months. I am going back to a cash only or in this case (earned gift card only) system. One of the big purchases this month was 25 pounds of chicken breast. I discovered a sale at Food Lion and was able to stock up. We currently have approximately 80 dinner meals in our freezers. Zach’s birthday party was also included in this months expenses. My goal for September is to limit spending as much as possible.
Earned $105- We continue to use Swagbucks on a regular basis but this amount continues to decrease and becomes increasingly hard to reach even $1 a day. I did cash in Ibbotta for $20 and a couple of Shopkicks $2 cards.
Blogging- post number 10 for the month. I decided to not post as much from the beach as I was enjoying some much needed down time.
Exercise- 6 days this month. I have managed to sprain my knee and have been pretty much only able to walk short distances for the past 2 weeks. I am pretty sure it will be at least another 2 weeks before I can try to get into a regular exercise routine.
Looking ahead to September- Decrease spending, increase income. Enjoy a month full of activities!
School has started back in full force this week. This includes ALOT of extra expenses this month. So I thought I would share some of the ways we are managing to save money any where possible.
Not eating out! Of course this makes sense because we all know how much we can save by simply eating at home but have you put actual numbers to the saving. As a family, we enjoying eating out! In fact, one of the highlights of vacation is eating out once a day! After returning home from vacation, we are back on track to reduce our eating out. In fact, we manage to eat entirely at home for 12 days. Friday night, we decided to celebrate the end of summer by enjoying a treat, sushi, cost of this treat is $70! This is not an outrageous bill for our family. Our lowest cost for all 5 to eat is around $40 and some meal can cost $100. By chose not to eat out once a week we can save $70 a week or $280 a month.
Bringing lunch- this is a huge money saver for us. The kids would each pay $2.85 a day for school lunch or $28.50 a week for both to eat at school. Matt and I both regularly take our lunch which saves an average of $10 each a day.
Turning off and/or down the air conditioning in the house. I recently read an article that said in order to save money you should place your thermostat at 78* when you are home and 85* during your absence. We could not do that. But this summer, we have raised the temperature to 74* during the day and 72* at night. Last weekend, we managed to cut off the air for 24 hours! We have needed to run the ceiling fans on a couple of occasion especially if we are cooking to keep the temperature bearable.
Saving fuel by not running the air in our vans. I am able to drive to work most morning with the moon roof open in the van which means approximately 35 miles of driving each day without air.
Running the washer and dryer at night and in the evening in order to not add additional heat in the house.
Now I get to start to reap the benefits of all the cooking and planning this summer. Today, EVERYONE is back on a regular work and school schedule. We are going to start adding activities over the next several weeks so this is really a slow week for us. It was so nice to be able to come up with a meal plan for the week in less than 10 minutes on Saturday.
Breakfast- Saturday,- steak and gravy biscuits. Sunday, Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, Lunchable brunch French toast or toast.
Lunch–Saturday-left-overs , Sunday-Stuffed Green Pepper Soup. Zach is taking lunchables and Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwhich. I am eating out quite a bit this week as we have not started a regular school schedule. Once I return to a regular schedule, I will eat out only one day a week.
Dinner – Saturday-Spaghetti with fresh pasta sauce Sunday–Chill cheese fries. Monday- Broccoli chicken casserole. Tuesday– Nachos Wednesday–Country Style Steak in crockpot Thursday– Pulled pork in crockpot . Friday- Pizza for Zach’s birthday party.