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.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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.
- 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.
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.