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.

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!

5 Things Friday 8/17/2018

  1. The past week has really flown by. I was able to accomplish almost everything on my list for this second vacation week! Including hair cuts for all of us and a nail trim for Rugar!
  2. Starting Monday, both Matt and I will be working full time. This will be the first time in our marriage (13 years) that we will both be working full-time.
  3. One of the main things I am concerned about is cooking and groceries. We will all continue to take lunches as well as eat the majority if not all of our meals at home. I have spent a considerable amount of time and money on groceries this week. I have visited Costco twice, Food Lion three times and Walmart and Harris Teeter. I have spent a total of $467 just this week. I will probably end close to $500 as I am going to stop at Food Lion for more Diet Cokes over the next several day. I am able to purchase 10 2L of Diet Coke for $9.52 until Tuesday.  After doing most of the cooking on Monday, I have continued to add simple things by cooking double most of the week.
  4. We finally got around to weeding and watering the garden today. I discovered that my lettuce had self seeded and I have a bunch of small plants. I am going to leave and see if any grow larger enough to eat. We also harvested several watermelon and two full buckets of green peppers. I am hopefully that we will continue to harvest tomatoes, pimentos and peppers for at least another month. I was also very excited to see that my sweet potatoes are starting to grow. They can stay in the ground until the first frost which is around the end of October.
  5. I was also able to complete a picture collage using pictures from our Disney 2015 trip. I have only had the collage picture for 4 months!

Did I mention how excited I am to start at Davie County Schools on Monday?

Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

We were out pulling weeds and watering this afternoon. Zach’s quote “This is a lot of work for food.”

5 Things Friday 5/25/2018

  1. I have a 3 day weekend! WOO HOO I am so excited to have at least one day to stay at home!
  2. Our square foot garden is thriving. I am so very hopeful at this point. We have enjoyed lots of lettuce and some basil. I am excited to watch everything grow but even more excited when we start eating out of the garden.
  3. Our freezer is once again full. Matt picked up our 890 of beef on Tuesday. Our chest freezer was a great fit. We have spent several hours cooking, so far we have 13 bags of cooked grounded beef.  32 beef and bean burritos, 12 meals of Salisbury steaks and 5 meals of sloppy joes (minus the buns).
  4. May has been a slow and expensive month. I am holding on tight to make it till June. We are definitely over budget with both gas and groceries for the month.
  5. Lily has not had an episode in almost 2 weeks (Sunday). This is a huge praise in our books.

5 Things Friday 5/18/2018

  1. The Square Foot Garden is looking AWESOME!  We are already enjoying lettuce that we sprout from some we had purchased. I am truly amazed at how much we are harvesting.  Everything is growing so well. I am so hopeful that this garden will help us reduce significantly our food bill this summer.
  2. I have really enjoyed baseball season this year and always look forward to swim team starting. However, these two overlapping for 2 weeks has added to the craziness of our schedule.
  3. Lily has been at a series of doctors over the last two week. The official count is 6 and that does not include our trip to the emergency room. I am very grateful for my decent insurance and our medical flex spending card that has help cover most of these expenses.
  4. I should start my part time job in July!! I am super excited at this opportunity not only for the extra pay but a definite change overall for me.
  5. The pool is officially open but with the weather stating rain all weekend, who knows when I will enjoy a relaxing day by the pool?

April in Review

Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance. We have had several large expenses this month but we continue to focus on the small gains.

  • Total paid to credit card debit $1483 total reduction in credit card debit approximately $612.We are final down to a level that is less than we ended with in December of last year. We have experienced a boast in income which we hope to increase and continue in the summer.
  • Grocery budget $475- Total spent $531.77. Yikes, It happened again and this does not include our cow purchase. The good news is that I have already made a menu plan for the month and plan to stick to $100. We will be receiving our cow sometime this month but I really don’t expect this to add to our cost at all. I am going to limit spending to what we are out of and Suddenly Salads if they go on sale.
  • Gas budget- $280- Spent $230. Gas prices are starting to increase in our area so I seriously doubt we come in under budget for the next couple of months.
  • Kid/Summer expenses :Swim team and Baseball games.
  • Earned $88-this is indeed a much lower amount than any of the previous months I have tracked but it is still extra money. We have decided to use this “extra money” for gardening and other yard supplies.

Personal- 

  • Blogging- 9 for the month. Super busy this month. The blog was technically down for over a week. Hoping to get back in the swing of things.
  • Exercise- 2 total days for the month.  a goal of 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not. This weather SUCKS!  I am looking forward to the summer and time in the pool.

5 Things Friday-4/27/2018

  1. We stopped at Lowes after the baseball game tonight and purchased $95 worth of plants. The full moon is scheduled for Sunday so according to farmer’s you are suppose to plant during the upswing of the moon. I am just so excited to get my garden started this year.  I do know that we will need to purchase several additional items but I wanted to at least get the majority started at the “best” time this year.
  2. Matt’s debit card numbers were stolen this week and I have spent almost 5 hours dealing with the aftermath.  We are expected to get back the entire amount that was taken but it is a HUGE  pain in the mean time.
  3. I can file this under the “joys of motherhood.” Tomorrow it would appear that all three of the little kids have somewhere/ something to do.  Which means that I will be playing “taxi” for the part of the day that I am not planting outside.
  4. We are in the middle of baseball season. I actually really enjoy the games but it adds a different level of complexity to our schedule.
  5. Next week, both Kendall and Zach have field days at school which last half a day. Zach has a field trip on Thursday. I am basically take off 2 days of work. But I do realize how quickly they grow up.

Trying to Save on Saturday

One of the largest expenses that we have each and every month is groceries. I spent a lot of time trying to control these numbers. If you will recall I had a HUGE grocery budget overage in the month of March ($726). I was planning to attempt to keep the April budget to less than $100.  But to be honest that is already not possible and we are in the middle of April. What I can say is that I have been able to stock up on lots of canned items and grab some quick and easy breakfasts for us as well. Harris Teeter has been having some huge sales in the past couple of weeks, for example, I grabbed 15 cases (12 packs) of soda for $1.99 today.  This alone is a saving of $50.  Cereal, grits, oatmeal and yogurt round out the list of items that I purchased today as well.  My plan for the rest of April is to only purchase things we are completely and totally out of that we can not survive without milk and eggs being the biggest things that I can thing of. Otherwise to be honest I am going to avoid all grocery shopping. I am going to allow for one exception “Suddenly Salad” Pasta that usually go on sale for approximately $1 a box. I need/ plan to purchase 25 of these to use once a week this summer as a quick easy and delicious meal.

I received the news today that we will also be purchasing a cow in the next month. This cow currently weighs 1400 pounds. This meat should last approximately 2 years. I am super excited about this meat.

The other food related good news is that within a month we should be able to start harvesting items from the garden. I am excited this year because all the plants should be purchased with gift cards earned from Swagbucks. This means that the entire garden is a profit not matter how little we may harvest.