Tuesday Thoughts

We are starting to see an end to our busy fall season, ok so not an end but a slowing down of after school activities. In three weekends, Lily will perform in the show Elf. Zach’s last scheduled baseball game is next Tuesday night. I do anticipate one or two night of a tournament the first few weeks of November. Kendall has her homecoming and last football game, she will cheer at this Saturday. I think that basketball season starts the first of December.

We dug up over 20 pounds of sweet potatoes on Saturday from our square foot garden. We also pulled several pimentos, jalapenos and green peppers. This is a sad time of year because I do not like the cold weather.

On a bright note with the cooler weather, our electric bill for the month was down by $60!

Grocery shopping this month has consisted of two categories, items we are out of and need for a specific reason and items of clearance. Our total spending for the month is $176. This amount includes 10 cases of drinks! I don’t anticipate a lot more spending during the next week and half. I do have a stock up trip planned for Costco the first week of November.

I have begun anticipating and counting the days until my first day off of work in three months!! However, this may occur sooner because today, Kendall stayed home from school. If she is unable to return to school tomorrow then I will be staying at home as well to take her to the doctor.

Everyone in the house is anticipating this Friday. Matt should receive his first paycheck from his new job and a paycheck from the Humane Society. I have spent several hours working out details but we should be set on a good course starting this Friday! I do anticipate a budget redo starting in January. I wanted to give us a couple of months to adjust and make plans before making any major changes. I am planning to going back to a more cash based system with use of envelopes and our Capital one account in order to keep a better track of our spending

Tuesday Thoughts

I am so excited that I get to spent 3 complete evenings at home this week! We have no football game(cheerleading) or cheer practice this week and only one baseball game. I am planning to get some extra cleaning done around the house as the things has gotten dirty and overlooked during the past couple of weeks.

We are hopefully that we have finally fixed the leaky shower problem. Matt re-caulked the shower pan on Saturday and I am planning to start using it again today. We have already purchased the tile to finish this project but need to find several hours in which we can spending working on it. We may be able to spend some time on the project on Saturday but that depends heavily on the weather as well.

North Carolina is finally experiencing some cooler temperatures. I finally turned off the air on October 3rd. This is very late for us as we usually can get a good week or so with no air in September. I am hopefully that we can at least keep the air and heat off for most of the month of October but we it can depend heavily on when the first freeze of the year is.

Matt loves his new job. The first week was a challenge especially with our crazy busy schedule. I am hopefully that we will be able to get into a good routine that will allow him to work his second job at least 3 evening a week so that we can have some time to work on projects around here on the weekends.

I have spent a total of $47 on groceries so far this month! I am super excited about this and hope to continue this streak for most of the month. I am making a Costco list and am holding out hope that the quarter back sale will appear at Food Lion soon!

5 Things Friday

  1. This October has been the hottest on record. The last three days we have had temperatures in the mid 90’s. However that is suppose to change tonight. The temperatures are suppose to be dropping until lunch tomorrow. The predicated high tomorrow is 68*
  2. The square foot garden is still producing. This week we have harvested pimentos, green peppers and a single tomato. We are still getting sweet potato flowers so they are still all in the ground. I anticipate digging these up next weekend or maybe even two weeks out depending on our crazy busy schedule.
  3. Matt starts his new job next Tuesday! This will bring in a huge booster in income but a significant decrease in time to complete task at home.
  4. Matt has made our shower functional!!!!! He still needs to replace tile but the overall out of pocket cost of the project is less than $30. I am going to wait until it is completely finished and then post pictures and a number break down.
  5. Next week will be one of our busiest to date. We have multiple events and commitments Monday- Friday night.

September in Review

Financial- We are doing ok. Matt has accepted a new position which should come with an significant increase in income! We have spent several hours talking about priorities and goals. I will hope to have a finalized new budget by the end of October. I do think that this may be a temporary budget for November and December with a more established budget starting in January. We did manage to have to have 7 no spend day in September which is the same as July.

Grocery Spending-$550.31 This does include our $120 Costco membership. We needed things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener and dishwasher tabs along with food for lunches!

Earned $155- 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 receive a $100 gift card for applying for a personal loan. All the money this money has been used to work on our bathroom floor. I will have details and pictures once it is fixed.

Personal-
Blogging- post number 8 for the month. Returning to work full-time has been rough along with all the kids activities.

Exercise- 0. After my knee injury, I am finally walking without pain and will try to start adding in some steady exercise.

Looking ahead to October- Maintain spending and adjust the budget according to the income level we are at. Continue to control spending and debit. I know that this month will truly be a month of adjustments so I just want to maintain even ground and make a plan that works for our family.

Saving on Sunday

We have definitely started one of the busy season of our lives. We have a minimum of three ball games a week in addition to scheduled practices and other events. During the month of September, I have two established goals first keep grocery spending to a minimum and second eliminate going out to eat. Today, I want to share how we are able to accomplish both of these goals.

I have a snack bag that I carry in my van all the time. I periodically refill it with snacks, typically you will find granola/fruit bar, rice krispy treats, fruit snacks and packs of applesauce in it. I have a huge purse and simply throw the snack bag in my purse before heading into a ballgame. If we have packs of chips, I let each of the kids add a bag of chips to my purse as well. This eliminates the need/ desire to purchase snacks at the game. Snack usually cost around $1 each for five people that is $5 a game or $15 a week that we are saving by bring in our own snacks.

The second way we save is by bring our drinks. The child that is participating in the game always needs a Gatorade or a water bottle. Each game I see at least one if not three parent buying a drink from the concession stand because they “forget” to bring one. I usually also pack a water per person or can of soda in our small cooler. I have never seen a sign at a school event that says “no outside food or drinks” so I usually just carry the cooler or I can always send the kids back to the car to grab a drink. At competition events, I will bring at least a water bottle in my bag and we do go back to the car to snack and even eat. Most Gatorades are $2 each. I can buy a 6 pack not on sale for less than $4 so I am saving a minimum of $4 a week. This does not include the $1 water for the rest of us or at least $12 a week.

Finally, we always plan ahead for the games. We always try to eat prior to the games. At worse, we have planned a portable meal such as hamburgers, sloppy joes, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets or burritos. This way, we can eat in the car prior to the game starting or even during the game. Now I do want to say that my whole family REALLY like ball game food. I have not seen nachos or chill cheese fries that don’t look delicious and usually smell even better. However, if we chose to eat even at one game at week, we spend at least $20 a week or $80 a month. Eighty dollars will buy us a nice meal even better than ball game food. One way we enjoy the ball game food is that if we all have eaten dinner prior to the game we can share an order of nachos for $3 or even a couple orders of fries. This way we are still saving at least $15 a week!


Menu Planning Monday

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.

Saving on Saturday- Chicken Thighs

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!


Aldi Shopping Trip

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.

Saving on Saturday 09/07

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?

Monday Menu Planning

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.