This is a different kind of week around here. Kendall and Zach are out of school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Lily is out on Monday. I have to work everyday but the good news is that we will have a couple of extra nights at home. We are trying not to waste food as usual. We don’t have a lot of leftovers from Easter as we had hamburgers and hot dogs at my brothers.
Breakfast- Saturday– Bacon and pimento cheese biscuits, Sunday-Easter Breakfast at church Monday-cereal Tuesday-eggs and sausage links , Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Steak fried rice using all left-overs from the fridge Sunday-leftovers Monday– leftovers for everyone except Zach who had egg salad, Tuesday– Mac and Cheese , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- sandwiches and grab and go
Dinner – Insta Pot Baked Pot Soup, Sunday- Hamburgers and hot dogs Monday-Left-overs Tuesday– Crock Pot Cube steak, rice and green beans Wednesday–Chicken and Broccoli casserole Thursday– Sloppy joes and French Fries Friday- Pork Chops and corn on the cob on the grill if it is not raining.
Things are suppose to be really crazy busy this week but storms have made at least Monday night a stay at home night. After a HUGE month of spending on groceries, we have managed to keep things under control for these first two weeks. One thing we were able to do this week is use up left-overs in a creative way.
Breakfast- Saturday– Bacon and pimento cheese biscuits, Sunday-gravy biscuit (gravy was a left-over) Monday-bagels, Tuesday-baked oatmeal , Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Arby’s for Matt and I Sunday-out to eat with friends Monday– leftovers for everyone, Tuesday– Ravioli, Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- the last of our Lunchable.
Dinner – Saturday-left-overs from the fridge , . Sunday- Creamy Spinach Pasta (new recipe that was a hit) Monday-Salisbury steak with all sides from the fridge Tuesday– Cheese quesadilla and Mexican rice Wednesday–Tortillia Thursday– Steak and Baked Potatoes Friday- Chicken Sandwiches and French Fries
Saturday was a gorgeous spring day in North Carolina. The temperature was in the low 70s and no rain! I took advantage of this great weather and the “Spring Black Friday Sale” at Lowes to get the Square Foot Garden up to date. We purchased 20 bags of garden soil at $2 saving $2.29 a bag for a total of $45, 2 green pepper plants,1 basil plant and a container of zucchini for $2.50 each saving a total of $5.12 and 7 small containers of annuals(flowers) saving sixty cent each for a total of $3.00. The total saving for our two trips to Lowes was $53.10! The garden beds are now full of dirt and we have started planting some of the vegetables. I was able to plant the green pepper and jalapeno plants that were purchased way ahead of time. I have been successful at spouting both watermelon and pear tomato seeds. These will have to wait until the last chance of frost before planting outside. I am super excited about what we are planning to grow in the garden this year and the money we are going to save in the process.
I also shopped at CVS on Saturday. I had a raincheck for 2L Diet Cokes which I combined with ECB I already had to purchase 16 of the 2 L at sixty-seven cent each. We were out of razors at my house so I purchased multiple razors spending a total of $20 and saving $18.39. My total savings at CVS was $46.13.
On Sunday, Harris Teeter decided to run a “Super Double Coupons Event”. This means that they doubled all coupons up to $2.00. For me the bigger deal was the fact that they had a great sale of several items that we use and are easy to store including paper plates, Gatorades, Flour, cream cheese and gold fish. Mom and I were able to find most items on my list except for the shampoo. I spent $76.51 and saved $84.74 or 53%.
In all just this weekend shopping the sales, I saved $184!
First a look at the numbers:
March Grocery spending prior to my Spring break $304.20
Grocery Spending this week (Spring break $754.25
Total Grocery Spending for March $1058.45
Total Grocery Spending for February $175
Budget for Groceries $450 each month
One of the reasons that I continue to update and blog is that it proves accountability for me of some form. In addition, it allows me to glance back that years past and give a better perspective.
March 2018 Spending $726.27 March 2016 Spending $200
Now, let me explain at least part of the spending. I am enjoying a week long break from my job so I wanted to make sure I got lots of things in place to help the next 9-11 weeks go smoothly. We are entering a “busy” season for us, baseball 2-3 nights a week and then swimming for everyone starts in early May. My goal this week was to prepare ahead as many meals as possible which in the long run will save both time and money. I am actually ahead for the most part with this goal, I have already gotten 13 meals in the freezer with plans for at least 7 more before the week ends. So that is a total of 20 evening meals in addition to the 5 for this week. Just looking at that number I am averaging $42.33 a meal to feed 6 people. I also purchased 30 lunchables for the kids to take to school so that also reduces the amount.
Another way to look at my March spending is that I had $275 left in my grocery budget for February. I also purchased enough food that I don’t plan to spend much of my April budget for groceries either so if I leave $100 in the grocery budget for April then I am back to my monthly average of $450.
After looking at the numbers, overall I am very pleased with both the amount of spending and the amount of food that I have prepped ahead of time. I did way over spend this month but if I can control spending for the next couple of month I will definitely be back on track!
The goal for this week is to make it till Friday when my Spring Break begins. We are definitely starting to see some holes in the pantry and freezers especially where our convenient foods are usually. On a positive note, we purchased a new grill on Friday of last week so we are definitely planning to use it a lot during the next fun and warm weeks of Spring! I will not be posting a menu plan for next week, I am going to fly by the seat of my pants and try to cook ahead so that should be interesting to say the least.
Breakfast- Saturday– bagels, Sunday-bagels (we slept late) Monday-bagels, breakfast burritos found in the bottom of the freezer. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Hamburgers and French Fries Sunday-Mexican with friends Monday– soup for everyone, Tuesday– Chicken salad lettuce wraps , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- soup or sandwiches.
Dinner – Saturday- KFC bowls, these were planned for Friday but we ate Raman Noodles instead. Sunday- Gifted left over pizza Monday-Spaghetti and Meatballs Tuesday– Hot Dogs and Tator tots Wednesday–Pulled pork with corn and broccoli Thursday– Grilled Chicken and pasta salad Friday- Eating out for Haley’s Birthday
The sun is finally shining in North Carolina on a Saturday. What does that mean? Time to wash all the sheets and bed covers so they can air dry. I am so excited. I was able to get 7 loads of sheets and comforters on the line. I did have to throw my mattress pad in the dryer for an hour but overall saved at least 6 hours of dryer use! The best part is how amazing the sheets all smell!
Food Lion and Aldi are the only choices except for Walmart for grocery shopping so I rarely get excited about sales or clearance items. This week was the exception. I found bags of flavored popcorn and cheese puffs on clearance for seventy-five cent each. I was able to grab 15 bags at this price! Yes, I grabbed all the I could find! Food Lion also had Lance crackers BOGO for $3.09 which works out to be twenty-six cent a pack. They are a great snack for the kids especially at ball games and for the pool. I was able to grab 12 packs at this price. CVS ran a sale last week for Coke products. I am good for at least two months. I now have spent exactly half of our grocery budget for March so I need to be careful with my future purchases.
I am hoping to reduce our out of pocket to less than $20 for the square foot garden this year. One way is to use seeds instead of purchasing plants for many of the items I plant. I have been collect packs of seeds for fifty cent over the past several weeks and also looked at what I have purchased in years past and plan to use as much as that as possible. Lowes ran a sale this weekend on plants for 1.50 each which is a little less than half off. I grabbed 2 containers of broccoli and planted them as they need to be in the ground and produce before the heat arrives with summer. I also purchased 10 green pepper plants, these will take ALOT more work as I have to move inside at night and remember to set in the sun during the day. If I am able to keep these alive until the last Spring frost usually mid to late April this will be a huge savings. I am collecting gift cards from Swagbucks to help cover the other expenses of the garden. Free Food will taste awesome this summer!
I am only one day late with this post and because the reason was the pictures from our kitchen, I don’t feel at all bad. Last week turned out to be very interesting as Kendall was sick, my mom was sick and I ended up spending a lot of time not feeling great. I did break down on Saturday and make a quick grocery store trip which push our grocery spending to $215 this month. Thankfully, I have also been able to organize and re-arrange the freezers and I feel much better about the amount of food we have on hand these days. We should easily make it until the end of the month before needing to grocery shop and we also have enough ground beef to last the rest of the year! We are continuing to use items on hand and even try some new ideas!
Breakfast- Saturday– BLT biscuits, Sunday-Bagels Monday Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Pizza Sunday-Meatball vegetable soup (new and something we will repeat) Monday– Sandwich for kids and left-overs for me Tuesday– Soup , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- Chicken nuggets and chicken salad wrap with leftover soup at least one day. We are out of uncrustables so the kids are having to think about lunches a little bit more.
Dinner – Saturday-Gravy and biscuits and grits Sunday–Left-overs Monday-Salisbury steak Tuesday– Soft Tacos Wednesday–Sweet Hawaiian beef (new) Thursday– Spaghetti and meatballs Friday- KFC bowls
The focus of the month of March, is to use what we have and keep grocery spending to a bare minimum until the last week of the month. I did go out and check to make sure that we have all the ingredients to complete our meal plan for the month. I am going to only post by the week because we still need some flexibility to change plans as our taste and needs change. We are also using a lot of pre-made meals this month in order to be able to clean out and re-organize the freezer in anticipation of restocking most of the meals.
Breakfast- Saturday– Sausage egg and cheese bagels, Sunday-Matt and Zach; Men’s Breakfast and Sheila and Kendall enjoy a meal out. Lily is at a youth retreat. Monday Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Homemade Cheeseburger Pizza Sunday-Grilled Cheese sandwiches Monday– Left-overs for everyone, Tuesday– Soup , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- uncrustables for the kids. I have a salad for one day and left-overs.
Dinner – Saturday-Left-overs (yes we have cleaned out most of the fridge at this point. Sunday–Instapot Potato Soup Monday-Breakfast casserole Tuesday– Chicken Enchiladas Wednesday–Chicken pot pie Thursday– Pepper Steak Friday- quick tortellini pasta
Planning ahead is a way to always save money. If I know that I have a plan, I am less likely to decide and make random choices. I am definitely planning ahead for the Spring. I can not begin to explain how much I am looking forward to warm days. First, it gets me so much closer to the end of the school year and my summer off with lots of fun filled activities. Next, I am also looking forward to my week of Spring Break at the end of March. Let’s talk about what my plans are starting to look like.
Both Kendall and Zach will be in school during my Spring break which means I should have some extra time to doing not only shopping for food but also some extra time for meal preparation as well. We are currently eating out of the pantry and freezer in order to make more room for prepared meals. I will be make a huge trip to Costco during my week off to purchase items to make at least 30 meals to place in the freezer. This should provide us with enough “prepared” meal to make the months of April and May pass smoothly even with all the end of year activities, baseball and chorus. My current plans include:
· 2 baked ziti- One for an evening meal and one for the freezer.
· 5lbs of taco meat in the crockpot for our Mexican meals
· A pot of sloppy joes. We have been enjoying at least one meal of sloppy joes a month.
· 2 chicken pies and 2 chicken pot pies
· 3 meals of chicken enchiladas- one for an evening meal and the other two for the freezers. · 6 bags of chicken breast ready to grill.
· I am also hoping to try out some more of the freezer meals I have been finding online.
A more long range goal is to plan and prepare ahead at least 60 meals during the summer to use for the school year!
Moving to the garden. I am so excited to have the extra time to devote to the garden this year. Last year was a bust overall but I am wondering if most of the issue is the amount of time and energy that was put in the garden. To reduce the overall expense of the garden, I am planning to use gift cards earned through Swagbucks to pay for most of improvements in addition to all of the plants that I want to use. My goal is to have at least $100 to spend on the purchase of plants during the first week of May. I have purchased both cucumber and squash seeds and will be starting these during my Spring break. I will need to purchase one additional bag of dirt to use for starting these plants. I have already purchased one bag of organic fertilizer and will be purchasing at least 5 more to spread in the garden. Between the dirt and fertilizer I am hoping to spend less than $50. My overall goal is to also fund as much of these purchases with gift cards as well. I will also need to spend several hours if no more in the garden spreading the fertilizer and replacing some of the strings that separate all the squares as well. Prior to moving forward with these plans I also need to make a master plan for planting for the year.
My other goals/ plans during Spring break include an appointment to get my hair colored and a trip to the nail salon for a pedicure and manicure.
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?