Big Batch Cooking- Hamburger

We were able to pick up the whole cow that I had ordered on Friday evening. This was 350 pounds of meat at $8.00 a pound.  It filled our entire chest freezer!  The plan was to spend Saturday, processing as much of this meat as possible.

I am proud and grateful to say that we have accomplished this task, with the following results:
21# of canned shelf stable ground beef. These are in pint jars so approximately 1# per jar.
4 meals of Sloppy Joes canned in addition to our lunch for Saturday as well.
30 Salisbury steaks cooked and vacuum sealed in the freezer.
30 Cheddar Bacon Hamburger patties
38 Regular plain Hamburger patties!

For a total of 123 meal proteins ready for use!

Matt even started the day by cooking a big batch of French toast that we were able to freeze left-overs for future breakfast!

I am exhausted but happy with the results!

Saving on Saturday

This weekend we are focusing on saving by using what we have!

One of the projects that I wanted to complete prior to the summer is to empty and clean our large chest freezer that is in the building. This freezer is probably 25-30 years old and was purchased used for $75.  It needs to be de-iced and given a break.  Matt and I have emptied it out except for ice that we need for our upcoming trip. In the process, I needed to do with the two gallon size bags of frozen tomatoes that I have.  I decided to toss them in the crockpot along with a couple of other items and make some more pasta sauce. I typically freeze the sauce but decided to try water bath canning this time.  We ended up with four quarts after dinner so we will try one and see how it taste. I am hoping to be able to can my sauce this year in order to be less dependent on the freezer in the future. It is much easier to store and transport jars than frozen foods.

After taking out my electric canner, I thought I should go ahead and get some beans canned for future use. I ended up running 4 loads of 8 quarts each of beans. This did allow me to use up all the empty pint jars along with all my canning lids that are not on new jars. I had to place an order for more lids.  I also cleaned and organized the canning closet. I am very happy with the contents and have big plans for the summer.

For breakfast this morning, I made French toast using up the last of the sour dough bread that I made this summer along with the remaining heavy whipping cream.   I had about half of the egg mixture left so instead of throwing away, I added hash browns and bacon. It was a hit at lunch with little work and no waste.

For dinner, I made nachos with taco rice that is left-over. The best compliment was from Lily “This is better than I expected.”

I ended up spending a lot of time this afternoon, transplanting tomatoes. More on this tomorrow!

Saving on Saturday

  1. This week both Matt and I realized that we are in need of new shoes. Both of us have tennis shoes that did not have any trend on the bottom. We decided to check out Belk’s last night as well had some time without any kids. We did hit the jack pot!  Stechers were buy one get one 50% off. With that discount, we purchased a pair of tennis shoes for $63.50 each.   Matt also found himself a pair of dress shoes!
  2. Part of using what is in pantry is not allowing things to go to waste, I am very proud of myself for this!  I used two boxes of Chex cereal to make “muddy buddies” and a ranch Chex mix.   I will not admit how long those boxes have been in my pantry. I also noticed that the Hawaiin rolls had not been openned that I purchased several weeks ago.  Matt suggested that we make a smash burger with them.  I used a pound of ground beef and fed five of us with that one pound!  The burgers were delicious!
  3. I did end up at the grocery store today to purchase some fruits and veggies that we have been completely out of for a couple of weeks.
  4. I am continuing to shred up junk mail and unusable paper to make the grounding and bedding for the chicken coop!  So far it is a win win!
  5. We have spent time cleaning and organizing and cooking ahead again this weekend so I will call it a success!
  6. Gardening update to come tomorrow!

Tuesday Thoughts

  1. I am tired of being sick. I have some form of sickness since Christmas Day. That is 16 straight days of not feeling 10%.  I do feel better but when it hits I am just miserable. Because of the weather delay tomorrow morning (see below) I am debating taking nyquil tonight to try and knock it out!
  2. I had my first remote learning day in two years.  Zach and Kendall were both out of school. Today’s weather has been horrible rain and wind including thunderstorms.  I looked at right after lunch to thisMy green stalk was full of dirt and stands about 6 feet tall with the platform.  I am hoping that nothing is broken.
  3. On of the things that I am trying to accomplish this week is cleaning up my home email. I am un-subscribing to any email that is possible. Unfortunately, a lot of spam my firewall prevents me from reaching. But I am hopeful to reduce the massive amounts of junk email I receive. This will also save me money as currently I am working to not spend any extra for the months of January and February along with the pantry challenge. IF I don’t know about a sale I can not buy what is on sale.
  4. Our washer was repaired yesterday which means I can now finish up the laundry, from the camper. I wanted to get everything clean so that in March all I have to do is load in food and clothing.
  5. I was able to redo our monthly budget. This year’s focus is paying down debit. I want to start actively paying more than I am spending in both groceries and gas. This will take some discipline, but I am ready to conquer it!

Saving On Saturday- Subscriptions

November is one of the most expensive months for us. It includes tags/ taxes on the Tahoe, and 6 months of car insurance along with regular and holiday expenses. This also happens to be when most of our yearly subscriptions renew.  This made the perfect time for me to sit down and consider each subscription and make a decision on rather to keep it or not, I am including my entire list of subscription just as a point of reference.

  1. Amazon Prime- $139 a year.  We live in the middle of nowhere with the closest grocery store not a Dollar General being a 10-minute drive.  Definitely keeping this one. Additional benefits include subscribe and save and music in the house.
  2. Microsoft Office $106 a year. We did discover that we have two accounts and are paying for both.  We will keep one of the accounts but the other has to go. This was a very expensive lesson to learn.
  3. Modwash- This is a car wash and a very recent decision to include.  We get unlimited car washes and use of vacuums and other tools.   $53.99 a month or $648 a year. This is definitely a luxury and one that we are keeping at this time.
  4. Discovery Plus- price increase of $2 a month to $9.99 a month or $119 a year.  I am the one who was watching this the most and really it has been reduced to maybe once a month.  This subscription was cancelled.
  5. Disney Plus- price increase of $60 a year or $5 a month. I did some research and found we could get Hulu, ESPN and Disney + for $14.99 a month or $179.88 a year. This is really not a savings but when you look at the two “television” subscriptions together which would equal $22 a month. We are going to get additional options and save $7 a month.
  6. Abode- This has been a must for many years as Matt used it to design and work on websites. However at $32.99 a month or $395 a year. We have not seen this benefit for at least 2 years and his current job does not require it’s us. This is a huge savings so off it went.
  7. Onstar Data in Tahoe- $15 a month. This is for unlimited data. It equals to the cost of purchasing one additional gig of data a month from Verizon.  With any trip this is very much worth it!
  8. YMCA membership- $27 a month with Lily’s discount. This is another fairly new membership.  This is a huge savings compared to any other gym membership and currently everyone but me is going on a regular basis so definitely a keeper.
  9. Apple Storage- We curently pay an additional $2.99 a month for this.  I am trying to reduce but this is a long and long process. This will stay currently.

I did make some changes to our auto insurance this time. We are dropping the collision on the Equinox as it is paid for and  I don’t like insurance so what we can get rid of I am going to.   We do have a AAA membership which will stay due to towing of the camper. This is significantly cheaper than having insurance on the camper.

Subscriptions take time to manage and really should be looked at yearly. This year we did not really save much but it helped to switch our money to things we find more important and useful.

Five Things Friday- Grocery Version

.

Noone is surprised or can argue the fact that groceries price has risen significantly this year.  I am now also feeding 3 teenagers!  So it is a struggle to feed us without breaking the bank. Here is how I am working to keep our budget intact.

  1. Costco chicken…. I picked up a chicken yesterday while getting the tires rotated on the Equinox.  We had just the plain roasted chicken with sides for dinner yesterday.  It easily fed six of us.  I stripped the remaining chicken meat put it in the refrigerator and placed the bones and skins in the crockpot to make chicken stock.  We used one package of the chicken for dinner tonight and will have another full meal if not two from the remaining chicken. That means we had enough meat for 3 meals for $4.99.  I also made approximately 6 quarts of chicken stock.
  2. Thanksgiving Turkey- I am in charge of providing the turkey for my families Thanksgiving this year.  I was watching for sales as the normal price of $1.29 a pound was just too much. Food Lion had a sale this week, that if you spent $35 you could purchase turkey for twenty-nine cent a pound.  Although I really did not “need” any items. I ended up get a 26-pound turkey for $6 and change.  The original cost of the turkey was $64.67, and my final total was $51.64.
  3. Aldi has for the past two years has “rolled back” prices on many items needed for Thanksgiving.  There is a 12 can limit per item.  I purchased both a case (12 cans) of green peas and corn.   I may return and purchase other items later in the month.
  4. Minimizing food waste.  We have had several vegetables that have been sitting in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks now. I also purchased by accident 2 10# bags of potato, each bag was purchased a week apart. The first bag I opened to make baked potatoes last week had already started to spout.  I decided to make these items shelf stable before they needed to be tossed.  I ended up canning 10 quarts of chicken pot pie base and 9 pints of cream of potato soup.   This should actually last over a year but used items that would have otherwise been thrown out!
  5. Eating from the pantry and only buying items that are either on a signficant sale or items that we have ran out of. For example the green peas, I used the last can last weekend for a 7 layer salad. The cans of corn were 50 cent cheaper than what I am currently getting with Subscribe and Save.    I am using the ALEXA app to keep up with items we run out of and am trying not to shop unless absolutely necessary!

5 Things Friday- Financial Version

  1. November is a really expensive month for us!  We have to pay taxes and purchase tags for the Tahoe, pay car insurance for six months and finish purchasing Christmas! Therefore, I have been trying my hardest to find ways to save money this month!
  2.  Our church was gifted pumpkins this year. I volunteered to bring home the leftovers after all the kids got to pick one. We brought home around 20. Lily has helped me roast and bag 4 for baking and cooking. I am also saving seeds to try and plant next year as well as roasting some seeds to eat. The remaining pumpkins will be used to supplement the chickens’ diets!
  3. Cancelled Discovery plus!  This is $7.99 a month. I was notified of a price increase so after talking it over we cancelled.
  4. Cancelled Disney Plus!   Again because of a price increase this is no longer something we needed. We have debated signing up for it again in combination with ESPN. The price would be basically the same as the price increase but with additional benefit.
  5. I decided to cancel the collisions insurance on my car.  The car is paid for and this saved around $150 for six months.

Saving on Saturday

Today has been busy but very productive, at least I feel like it has been productive. The weather outside was gorgeous, not to hot not too cold and no really wind.  We needed and actually did get some garden work done.

Zach pulled some chicken poop out of the coop and placed in several of our square foot beds. I went behind and broke up and stirred in the dirt followed by covering with paper mulch for the winter.  I am hoping to finish this process in the next couple of weeks so that it can compose over the winter. Matt helped level and moved one of our greenstalk (vertical planter) to the front. And then he and Zach move one bed to a new spot.  Kendall and I spent some time in the greenhouse. I am super excited to have several green peppers growing in there currently!

Another big project today was making and canning Matt’s chill. This will be used for lunches mainly!  We have 16 pints to put in the canning closet. I hope to post a link to the youtube video soon!

Sunday Catch- Up

Life is busy, difficult, busy, and overwhelming this month. Hopefully I can get catch up and spend a little bit more time with blogging. I also really want to be consistent but at during this season I will just do what I can and give myself some grace!

Financially, I feel like we have recovered from Matt’s short period of unemployment this summer. I am working on finishing the year strong but also starting to look at some changes and plans I want to make for next year.  Credit card debit has really creeped up on me, so trying to balance paying that off and saving and enjoying the few short years of kids at home is a balance that takes a lot of mental energy.  Groceries have always been one of the biggest expenses for us.  My plan and goal for November and December is to pay for what we get and then use any remaining money to pay down the credit card debit. Starting in January, I would like to start saving to purchase another whole cow in the summer. Ideally, I would put $500 a month in a saving account for six months to make this happen.   We have a ton of food in multiple locations and I am really working on keeping it organized and to work through the food that is here before buying new things.  I have found a couple of “guidelines” that are helping with making plan a little bit easier. First we are having a “breakfast casserole” every Sunday morning. This makes getting ready for church much easier and quicker. Soup for Sunday dinner is also going well with occasional leftovers for the week. I am finding that I must cook 3 meals on Saturday or we end up eating out.  Freezer meal are awesome and I already know that I need to have many more in the freezer during the summer.

Kids- Lily is currently in Florida spending two weeks with Haley and David. She has finished her first eight weeks of college classes and is struggling to balance work and school.  She also will need a loan to fully pay for her second semester of college. Zach is playing football which means practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with games on Wednesday. Braxton is playing baseball which is one game a week. Kendall is anticipating swim season and has started swimming at least 3 days a week.  We are also currently struggling to get her permit.  Kendall decided very quickly that she did not want to and could not handle working along with school

Chickens- We are getting between 2 and 6 eggs a day. I don’t understand but we have not had to buy any eggs so that is a plus.   We have switched the bedding from paper to wood shaving.  It is more expensive but the eggs are cleaner.  We have purchased another automatic door which is working perfectly. We also still have at least one possum and one racoon who visit once a week. This is a significant decrease from daily so something is working.

Garden- I have probably 3 galloons of tomatoes currently in the freezer. I actually have still been collecting tomatoes this week. We are attempting to keep peppers alive int eh green house. We planted onions and asparagus but that is all for the fall. A couple of beds have paper mulch on them but I would like to move some planters and mulch a couple more beds but again just am struggling with the time.

The word for my job is intense. I really enjoy both the kids and my co-workers but my mental capacities are being exhausted regularly.  I am also struggling with some health issues. Nothing major buy annoying.

We do have several trips planned more details to come!

5 Things Friday

  1. The month of September ends this weekend! It was definitely a month of change and a month of catch up. I will share more in our monthly update but I am very hopeful that we are going to be on solid financial ground moving forward.
  2. Last Saturday, we ended up clothes shopping. It was definitely time to buy some new jeans and long pants. We still have a couple of small needs but I am hoping to stop shopping in November for everything but food!
  3. Haley and David will be coming up to NC next weekend.  Lily is going to return to Florida for 2 weeks. It should be an experience for everyone!  I am sure that Kendall is going to have the hardest time with Lily not here.
  4. We are still harvesting a small amount from the garden. I also received some onion starts and asparagus in the mail today that I need to get planted.
  5. Our rooster is crowing and all the hens appear to be laying however we are only averaging 4-5 eggs a day from 7 hens….. this is an increase from 3-4 a day but we have enough eggs to eat and share so that is good enough!