The last couple of weeks, we have been doing things to improve the flow and function of our kitchen. My plan is to show all the changes at one time. But in order to complete these updates as inexpensively as possible, I am using “free money”, gift cards that are earned via swagbucks or other apps. I am also trying to use as many things as possible that we already have. For example, while cleaning and organizing the laundry/ extra food storage, I found a dish rack that was no longer being used. I had Matt hang this on it’s side to hold lunch boxes.
This cleaned off the dryer and even looks better.
Matt was able to put new brakes on the red car, saving all the labor cost!
The final big event was our church’s annual Ladies Banquet. I have been asked to decorate a table the last several years. This year with a little bit of planning ahead, I purchased all the items except for the center vase at the Dollar Tree. I borrowed the vase from my mother. The total cost for the table was $25. I am very happy with the results!,, What do you think?
Beside groceries, you could easily suspect that clothing is one of our bigger expenses. Especially given the fact that prior to last fall, I wore scrubs four days a week. I probably spent less than $100 total on work clothing in those 12 years. Matt also has transitioned from wearing jeans and t-shirts to a more traditional work outfit. However, we have definitely been blessed over the years in the areas and we continue to receive blessing.
The girls often, at least once every 3 or 4 month have received bags of hand me down clothes over the years. Zach, since starting school has been gifted with clothing over and above any wants he could have. During the past several weeks, I began to notice that Kendall’s jeans were getting shorter and shorter and then ankle short. Lily has also been complaining about not have any “public” long sleeve shirts or sweaters to wear. Last Sunday, in fact, she ended up borrowing a sweater to wear to church from Kendall. Matt and I decided that we really needed a trip to Goodwill and that we also need to take a good inventory of what clothing we had and what we needed.
At Goodwill, Kendall was able to locate a pair of jeans and a pair of capris that she really liked and Lily found 2 sweaters that she could use for layering. The total spent was $14. We were also blessed by one of Lily’s friend who after hearing Lily says she borrowed a shirt decided to clean out her closet and passed two huge bags of clothes down for the girls. I have been working on cleaning out my closet over the past several weeks and am actually at the point were most if not all the clothes that are left are unstained and something I have worn in the last year. The kids all spent last Sunday afternoon and some time this week, going through and cleaning up their closets. I am so happy to report that each of the kids has enough clothes not only for the rest of winter and spring but also the summer. Kendall “found” 3 additional swim suits in her closet that were the perfect size for Lily to finish out our needs list.
Matt and I have also been slowly, replacing some of our more worn out clothes, and updating some clothes as well. He needs mainly pants as his shirt collection is huge and I need more “professional” clothing as t-shirts are only allowed on Fridays. I receive lots of advertisements from multiple clothing stores on a daily basis. Today, I noticed that Old Navy was running a sale on dresses and jeans. I have been saving my Verizon rewards for the past couple of months and had two $5 gift cards from them. I even remember to shop via Swagbucks. I am super pleased with the outcome. I purchased a pair of jeans for Matt, a pair of Khakis for Matt, 3 simple long sleeve dresses for me and a pair of bike shorts for either Lily or Kendall. I added the shorts for $2.08 in order to receive free shipping. I used $10 gift cards and spent a total of $45. I did receive $20 in super cash and another $5.69 from Swagbucks!
You will notice lots of easy and quick meals on the menu this week. I still want to busy week we have scheduled I am saving most of the experiments for the weekend. I did make some changes to this weeks plan because we ended up eating left-overs on Friday night and I will be in a meeting until late on Tuesday night. I am planning to grind up a shoulder roast to use as the meat in the shepherds pie. I will also probably make extra mashed potatoes for the freezer and to use in the shephards pie on Friday.
Breakfast- Saturday– Biscuits- Sunday-Bacon omlet Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles. Wednesday- baked oatmeal either peanut butter/chocolate chip or strawberries and cream to use up the heavy cream at the house.
Lunch–Saturday-Crock pot mac and cheese Sunday-Mexician Monday– Potato soup for kids and chicken stew for me. Tuesday– hummus and dip for me , Kendall and Zach had egg salad sandwiches , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- uncrustables for the kids. I have a salad for one day and left-overs.
Dinner – Saturday-Arby’s Sunday–Left-overs Monday-Rice Kieblsa . Tuesday– Cheese quesidila and mexican rice Wednesday–Chicken pie Thursday– sloppy joes and FF. Friday- Shephard pie
We were VERY successful eating up the junk food Sunday left-overs this past week. I did not post a menu plan but did talk about some of them over here. The focus of this week is to try out some new recipes. I found a bunch of new to me crockpot recipes that include a shopping list. After looking at most of it, I realized that I would only have to buy the meat for most of these. I did want to do a taste test before stocking the freezer with these items. I also realized that some are just as easy to prepare the morning of or the night before. So far all three have been good but I will most likely only repeat two, the Mexican chill and Honey Sesame Chicken.
Breakfast- Saturday– Pancakes- with leftovers for several additional mornings this week. Sunday-I made an egg frittata with lots of veggies for me and biscuits for the kids and Matt. . Monday- Left-over egg frittata (the kids tasted mine on Sunday and wanted to finish it on Monday). Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles. Wednesday- baked oatmeal of some form.
Lunch–Saturday-Olive Garden (special treat) Sunday-Cranberry Roast with mixed veggies. Monday– Potato soup for kids and a can of soup for me. Tuesday– hummus and dip for me , Kendall and Zach had egg salad sandwiches , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- uncrustables for the kids. I have a salad for one day and left-overs.
Dinner – Saturday-Mexican Chill with cornbread topping. Sunday–Oddles of noodles soup (yeap it was that good of a day) Monday-Honey Sesame chicken with egg rolls and rice. Tuesday– Taco pasta Wednesday– Baked Ziti Thursday– Hamburgers and FF. Friday – left-overs or rice kielbasa depending on what the fridge looks like.
Do you have a favorite crockpot recipe for me to try?
I have already shared how we spent much more than anticipated in the month of January. So far we are starting the month of February off with a bang as well. On the way home from work, Friday afternoon. I get a text from Kendall that said “I broke my glasses at school today.” I asked for pictures and got the followingAt this point, I knew four things. 1. These probably were not fixable. 2. Kendall’s prescription for her glasses expired in March. 3. I did not plan to take the kids to the eye doctor til at least July, when my new vision insurance starts. 4. Kendall only has one set of glasses with her current prescription.
I did some quick research and called Matt to have him meet us in Winston- Salem at the closest Vision Works store. I was very fortunate that Vison Works currently had two specials. The first is a Buy One Get One Free and the second was 2 pair of kids glass for $99. Unfortunately the $99 special was for frame that cost $69 and did not include transition lens. We decided to purchase two pair for Kendall with the transitional lens for $299. Ouch but at least now we should be able to make it to July or later without new glasses. Kendall is also requesting contacts so this may be a very long term pair of glasses.
Lily and Zach both have multiple pair of glasses but they both located $69 frames they LOVED and did not need the transition lens since they already have several pairs at home. I did purchase the additional pairs for $99.
$400 and 4 pair of glass later… all I could say is welcome to February!
I have mentioned that my plan for 2019 is to get back on a budget with spending and to reduce my overall grocery budget. I really do have a stockpile and my goal is to go through and use ALOT of it up during the months of January and February. Another way to reduce expenses is for us to not eat out. This is a hard one!
Breakfast- Saturday– Toast and Eggs Sunday-Sausage cresant casserole . Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, poptarts, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles. I had purchased a couple of boxes of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios, this have been a huge hit so far and probably will only last until Wednesday.
Lunch–Saturday-Chic-A-Filet (My mother treated Lily and I) Zach and Kendall had school so that took grilled cheese sandwiches. Sunday-Baked Potato bar. Monday– Salad for me, soup for Kendall and Zach, Lily and Matt had burritos. Tuesday– Ham salad for me, Kendall and Zach had grilled Cheese sandwiches, Lily a salad, Wednesday-Soup for me, chicken nuggets for Zach and Lily, Kendall-vegetables to dip, Thursday– leftovers for me, Zach has chicken nuggets and Kendall a roll up. Friday- I eat out, Zach, Lily and Kendall have soup.
Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers, Sunday– Turkey Cheddar Soup- used a soup pack mix and added in our left-over turkey , Monday-Hamburger Helper Tuesday– soft tacos . Wednesday– Salisbury Steak with left over stuffing and carrots, Thursday– Chicken fried Rice . Friday -Grilled Chicken if the weather permits.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and changes that I could had no way to prepare and plan for.
First, Matt’s stepmother, fell and broke her hip. After some discussion and thought, we decided that we needed to travel to Michigan over Thanksgiving. In fact, we are currently in a hotel in Claire Michigan. My goal is to get a post over the next day or so that gives some ideas on ways to save on last minute traveling.
Next, Amanda, my oldest daughter, has spent 5 days in Cardiac ICU and 5 days in an regular hospital room. She developed a complication from pregnancy that caused her heart to fail, which in turned caused several blood clots in both lungs and one in her heart. The first days of this episode, were the most scary thing I have ever experienced. I stayed with her for almost a solid week. We are all thankful and blessed that she is home, and expected to make a full recovery. The recovery will be slow but still is expected to be full. It was a tough decision for us to leave her and come to Michigan but it was the right one for us. Amanda was very supportive of this.
Luckily, I have purchased most of our Christmas gift, and did not plan to spend much time shopping over Thanksgiving. We had a menu plan in place and Matt was able to stick to it and keep things functioning at home, while I focused on Amanda. This trip although short planned and much debated, has given me some time to sit, relax and catch up on some sleep, which I would not have completed at home.
This is the short explanation of the last couple of weeks. I am praising God for walking beside me and carrying me!
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.
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.