5 Things Friday

  1. Today starts our last full week of summer break. Next week will be filled with last minute appointments and some extra fun if we can arrange it.  Braxton will also be with us for the entire week.  Today is a pool day so we plan to spend most of the day at the pool.
  2. I had a huge food waste fail this week- We had an entire watermelon that had not been cut go back and spilled on the floor. I have definitely become a little bit more aware of our food following the clean up.  I did manage to make half a squash casserole with the remaining squash.  I am also beginning to use dill and basil that has been previously frozen in dishes.  I had forgotten about these treasures until we attempted to organize the freezer. Since I was unable to grow either this year, I am thankful to find them.  I did cook our first official meal this summer that include several items.
  3. Tomatoes are continuing to produce.  I had hoped for much more but I do realize that this summer has not been the best for tomato growing.  We have been able to freeze enough spaghetti sauce for the year in addition to eating several times. I should be able to continue to make a batch a week which means at least 4# of tomatoes.
  4. I talked with the neighbor and will start using goat manure to improve the dirt in my square foot garden. I am hoping that with this and more worm casting next year it will support and grow a garden full.
  5. We received our school supply list. I am excited that we need only to purchase a couple of notebooks and clear water bottles. I have been trying to stock up on items as they have been on sale. I anticipate less than $50 for all supplies for all 3 kids!

Five Things Friday

  1. No Monday Menu will be posted this week. Next week our church is hosting Vacation Bible School from 6 to 8 Monday thur Thursday and a pool party on Friday. Dinner is provided for workers and their children.
  2. Our new oven has arrived!  I have been experimenting and getting use to it over the past couple of days. So far I am very impressed!
  3. With only 3 weeks left of summer vacation, I have established a couple of goals that I want to work toward which will make my life easier in the fall. First- prepare easy to heat and eat meals as much as possible. This week we have focused on making pizza dough. We have all the ingredients but it takes around 2 hours to make the dough. Kendall has made 12 this week. This will make for easy pizza in the fall. Simply unthaw the dough in the morning and add toppings. We also made 2 additional cheeseburger pizza toppings to add to the dough. Second- Stock up and organize the freezers and pantry.  This is also close to completion. I will be adding a couple of cookie, bread and cake mixes during the next week. Finally-enjoy lots of down time by sitting by the pool.
  4. Square Foot Garden- we are making plans to add cement to complete this area but I am also continue to try and figure out how I can improve the soil for next year. We are fortunate to get tomatoes but I am so frustrated that the money I spent on soil is basically worthless this year!
  5. July has turned out to be one of the most expensive months EVER but we are still holding our heads above water. I am ready to start reaping the benefits of all my bargains and saving.

Filling Up the Pantry.

I have mentioned before that I feel like we have a well stocked freezers.  So now I am trying to stock up the freezers with easy to prepare meals in addition to adding some needed items to the pantry.

I have been doing ALOT of shopping on Amazon this summer, in addition to it being the most convenient option for me, I have been able to find some great deals.  I am using scribe and save- the subscription service.   I am finding that some  deals offer some additional amounts off for your first shipment. I am setting reminders all over the place to go back and check prices to make sure that the second and future shipment are still at the great deal. If not it is not difficult to cancel but the trick waiting till around  a week before your shipment closes and then doing the math.  I have purchased snacks (30 cent or less per pack), hand soap, school supplies, rice and all vitamins. This week  I have found soup for around 80 cent a cup this is a HUGE convivence item for us!

Today I ventured out to Harris Teeter.  I have not shopped this grocery store in over 18 months. I LOVE their sales but with COVID and the distance to get to the store I just have not had a chance. Today I was getting some work on the van so I was  within a mile of a store.  I spent $33.45 and saved 53% according to the receipt! There was only one small catch, none of the items purchased were a need. They all were to add to the pantry. I grabbed 4 boxes of pasta at $0.79 cent each.  Canned beans, green beans and corn at thirty seven cent each and Hamburger helper at ninety-eight cent each. I admit that we use 2 boxes of Hamburger helper to one pound of ground beef but this is a quick and easy meal.

I am actually thinking that I have stocked up on most pantry items as well.  My plan is to only shop sales for the rest of the summer! This months groceries will be a regular month but hopefully I will be able to reduce the grocery budget by half for the rest of the year! $300 a month sounds very doable starting in August.

 

5 Things Friday

  1. No menu plan for this week for a couple of reasons. First we are on week 6 of no oven.  Scheduled delivery is 2 weeks away.  I wanted to use up a lot of the fresh ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator as well as left-overs. And the final reason… I was just too tired.
  2. Made the first batch of spaghetti sauce from the garden this week. IT was awesome.   Unfortunately, we have discovered that the soil that I purchased from Home Depot was not good. We have been working to salvage anything by adding lime.  We were able to harvest some snap peas and some tomatoes. The tomatoes beds were over half full with dirt that I had already been using so they are at least producing a first harvest. I doubt it will be enough to fill the freezer this year but at least I can make a few batches of spaghetti sauce.  The sweet potato bed which is all old dirt seems to be doing the best so maybe I can salvage a few of those as well. My plan is to continue to add lime a bag a month until we get the beds close to where they need to be. Ugggh  I had high hopes and expectations this year!
  3.  We are headed on our beach trip soon. Not going to share all the details but this will be a totally new experience for us. We are planning a trip to Oak Island. I have never stayed on a NC beach!
  4. Lily is really enjoying her job as a lifeguard. She is actually working much more than she hoped and is enjoying spending the money as well.
  5. My summer is officially half over. I return to work in 6 weeks.  I have actually completed all the items on my summer to do list except stock the freezer. I am hoping that the next 6 weeks are at a much slower pace than the last 5!

Saving on Saturday

This week let’s talk about our single biggest expenses food.  Yes we spend more on food than our mortgage some months. I have really been focusing on reducing this expense this year. Last year we averaged  of $631.51 a month. We have been under budget ever single month so far this year.  I thought I would share so of the ways I am making this work.

One of the things that has been going in my favor is that last year, I was able to completely stock our pantry and freezers. I have been very deliberate about keeping a running list of items we are low on or in need of. The Alexa and it’s app make this so easy for me. At least once a month, if not every 2 weeks, I am heading to a grocery store to pick up these items.   This week I had a total of 9 items on my list. I also picked up bread and bagels and lots of vegetables. Total spent $53. Our total for the month is currently at $164.  I am not planning a trip to Costco this month so I should be able to keep things very low. I am trying to only buy things on the list and greatly reduced items that I know we can use within the next month.

We spent several hours a couple of months ago cleaning out and organizing our freezers in the building. I discovered that we had an abundance of pork items.  This freezer is currently very full so I don’t need to any any items to it even very heavily discounted things.  I know I paid less for most items even last year than what they are currently.  Not buying meat is one of the huge ways that I have been able to reduce our spending. My plan is to use what meat we have for the remainder of the year with the idea we may buy a cow next spring. Next up on the agenda is to clean out our house freezers. We have lots of items that have gotten lost in these freezers. This week it took 3 people to find a pack of hot dogs. But they were found and are on the meal plan for the week.

We have high hopes and plans for our garden this year!  We had a huge expense when we update the garden beds. In total including dirt we spent around $1500.  Our goal is to grown and eat enough to even our the expense. I had purchased several packets of seed and attempted to grow cucumbers, squash, zucchini, snap peas and green beads from these packets.  So far the results are still out. I have somethings growing but not as well as I had hoped. The past two years, I have purchased tomatoes from a local greenhouse. This year I purchased a flat 36 plants for $30 compared to Lowes and what I have paid it the past this is a HUGE savings.  I also have started  8 pepper plants in the garden. I usually buy most of my plants from Lowes. The average price is $3.50 a pot which for I get one pepper or tomato plant and maybe 4 squash or cucumber plants.  Today we headed to the local farmer’s market where I spent $3.75 on on 10 cucumber plants. (Mine are not near as green or as big). We also spent $3.00 at the local nursery for 2 watermelon and 2 cantaloupe plants. These are half the price of a single plant at Lowes.

We also purchased 2 tomatoes, a squash and a zucchini from the farmer’s market. We spent $5.00 to feed all 5 of us lunch of tomato sandwiches and saluted zucchini and squash.

After a year of eating school lunches, everyone is burn out and decided to return to packing our own.   Matt and I still have a lunch allowance but I am finding that I prefer to eat from home most days and use the money for dinners or ball games. I stocked up (10 boxes) of Suddenly Pasta salad last summer at $1 a box. I checked the current price and  $2.35 is shocking.  We made 2 boxes of pasta salad, added 3 cups of shredded chicken along with the remainder of a cucumber and tomatoes from lunch. For around $3 we have enough for 10 lunch meals.

This week I was also able to find reduced prices on broccoli, blueberries and cucumbers at Aldi. So I made a pot of broccoli soup for dinner. Looking for discounts is the best way to save money but you have to use the food or it is still over spending.

Did you save money this week?

 

Saving on Saturday

After the struggle we had last week I am glad to say that things are definitely looking better today.

Instead of replacing the washer, we decided to have a repairman check it out to determine if it was worth the repair.   I am excited to say that he came this morning and it is a belt which will cost $20. So along with his labor we are around $100 to repair, saving us $500 if we had chosen to replace.

I feel like I am finally controlling the grocery budget.  The first thing that has made a huge difference is use “Alexa” to keep up with what items need to be on my grocery list. I have gotten in the habit of adding items as they are used up to the grocery list and then printing before going to the store. I save time and money by not purchasing items not needed!  In January we spent $230 on groceries and so far this month we have spent $171!  This is a significant reduction in our spending from last year!  I do anticipate a COSTCO trip at the end of the month but I also have a Costco list going on the Alexa so that should help as well.

My mother has been watching food prices and let me know that Aldai had  ground beef for $1.49 a pound this week.  The limit was 2-5 pound tubes. I was able to purchase 5 tubes between myself, mom and Matt today. This is the absolute lowest I have seen ground beef in several years.  I did a quick check of the freezer to determine what we needed. I was able to process 25 # today. We have taco meat, Matt’s chill and my chill. Baked beans for lunch tomorrow and 9 bags of cooked meat to use to help with a quick meal on our busy days.

Matt was able to use some wood from the building to make 2 additional Minnie Ear holders for Kendall’s wall and a shelf for Zach’s room. I will try and post pictures as soon as they both get painted.

Finally, I remember to add digital coupons and offers prior to heading to Food Lion today. My receipt says that I save $26.00 and I earned $4. in rewards!

How did you save money today?

Budget Busting Day Almost

I am currently enjoying my two week Christmas break. Today, I had plans to spend most of the day shopping the after Christmas sales with my Mom.

On the way to pick up Mom a deer decided to come out of a field and ended up hitting the side of the van very hard.  I watched the deer run off so last I know it is still alive. Luckily the passengers side of the van already has several dents and scratches so I was at least thankful that we can now get the whole side repaired. I contacted my insurance and I should only need to pay the $500 deductible for collision. I am estimating that the total repair will be close to $4000 based on the sounds of the door and the damage I see. I was even able to schedule a repair for in the morning at 9:20am. I was able to look at the budget and cover this expense fairly easily but it does remind me that we need to make an emergency fund a priority!

Yesterday, we had our close friends over for lunch and I fixed  Taco Soup in the crockpot. A couple of weeks ago, I dropped the lid of the crockpot and it broken off. It was definitely still useable but not ideal.  The crock pot got really hot and has been cooking foods really fast really too fast so I decided that when my soup was overcooked it needed to be replaced.  I was able to find a basic replacement for $30 and decided to use my Christmas money for this purchase.

Finally tonight I was going to try a new recipe for “Cowboy Casserole” it needed 2 lbs. of ground beef. I found a package in the freezer and decided to use the insta pot to speed things along.  It appeared to be going well until I went to release the pressure and there was none.  I opened the lid and after 40 minutes the meat was still frozen and the inside of the pot was black at varies points.  Even 2 hours later the entire pot was warm to the touch.  Another item in the trash can! I am still debating if I want to replace this or not. It is not an item that I use frequently and can only think of 2 real items that I “need” it to produce.

 

$20 Food Lion Trip

I am very very happy with my current stockpile. I estimate we have approximately 200 meals ready to use for the first half of the school year. I am very hopefully that I will have some time during Christmas break and a good couple of snow days to replenish our stock. I did make a trip to the local meat shop on Monday. I spent $129 and purchased chicken wings, pork butts and beef. The freezers are full! I did leave additional money in our grocery budget this month in order to purchase some items as we run out or if we find a awesome sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a flyer from Food Lion with coupons to use on store brand items this weekend. A better surprise was the fact that 2L Diet Cokes were on sale for $0.99 each. I decided to challenge myself and see what I could purchase for $20 using the coupons that they sent.

I purchased: 10 2 L of Diet Coke, using the sell price plus the $3 off $10 coupons these were $0.69 each.
2 six packs of plastic bottles of peach flavored drink, the original price was $1.99 each, using $1 Food Lion coupon, each bottle is twenty-five cent each!
2 pack of sausage patties that had been reduced to $1.74 each
4 packs of Hazelnut M&Ms that were reduced to $0.48 each
Pack of Frozen broccoli- original price $1.20 with $0.35 off coupon making it ninety-four cent. I use this in several casserole recipes and it is one of the few vegetables everyone will eat.
Jar of Alfredo sauce originally $1.49 with coupon for $0.45 off making it $1.04
2 boxes of elbow macaroni, original price $0.79 each with coupon for $.50 off two makes each box fifty-four cent.

I spent a total of $19.46!!!!!

Saving on Saturday

I really had not planned to take the entire week off while I was at the beach but it just so happened that way. We enjoyed lots of beach time, shopping time and pool time. I am glad to be home.

My square foot garden is producing but at a significantly slower rate than I anticipated. Our Tomatoes are starting to come in and we have lots! I used 12 pounds of tomatoes the last week we were home to make homemade pasta sauce. The kids LOVE this and request it! I have been using restaurant to go containers that we have been collect to place the sauce in and store. This makes it super easy to find and one container equals one jar of sauce. Today, we head to the garden and harvest around another 12 pounds of tomatoes. I used 8lbs along with a couple of green peppers I found to make another crockpot full of pasta sauce. We also went ahead and stewed the remaining 4 pounds. I packaged these in 1/2 cup containers. I used these for Mexican rice. Other plans this week include tomato basil biscuits, stuffed green peppers, tomato pie and tomato sandwiches. My goal will be to use as many fresh tomatoes as possible and attempted to hold off on another container of pasta sauce until next weekend.

I purchased Disney Gift cards from Target and combined to one card that we will be using on our first Disney Trip in August. I am able to save $5 for each hundred using my Target card so is an easy extra $50 just during this trip.

While reading several other blogs and in order to have a complete stockpile. I have begun to look at items other than food that we can store easily. I was able to find air filters for our heating and air system at $0.96 each at Home Depot. In order to get free shipping, I purchased 12 packs of 4.

In the area of food, I will be making a Costco trip this week and hope to be able to grab both paper towel and toilet paper at some point during the week. Zach is attending a baseball camp in Winston so I am not opposed to stopping at Costco several times this week. I also need to make a list and head to Aldi to grab so canned biscuits, pie crust and cream cheese that is significantly cheaper to purchase here.

My final area of saving my not appear to be one at first. One of the things we like to do is shop the outlets while we are at the beach. This year, Matt and I specifically talked about items we needed. We purchased new shoes for everyone and even an additional pair for both Matt and myself. We ended up spending around $30 for each pair of shoes so this is truly a huge savings. I also purchased Zach so shorts and Braxton several outfits to use my Old navy cash. The best find was probably 40oz metal water bottles for $10 each. We will definitely be using these at Disney!

Friday Update

  1. The Garden- Because of our strange weather here, the garden has been all over the place. We are still finding 5-10 ripe strawberries a day. We seem to be on the last of our snap peas but have been able to enjoy on a very regular basis. This week, we are enjoying zucchini and squash. It appears that my cucumber plants are actually alive! They have started to produce blooms and I am hopeful for some in a couple of weeks. We have tomatoes growing and I am really excited that it appears that all the plants have survived and are starting to produce. I was able to purchase a peach tree that if lives will finish up the eatable border in the back yard.
  2. The weather- CRAZY! For the first time ever in June, we turned off the air conditioning for 4 days this past week. Our average high is 85 but we had 3 days in the 60’s. Unfortunately the humidity got us on the the four day and it is back to the air.
  3. Food- I am very excited and pleased that our school lunch deliveries have improved significantly for the summer. I am thankful for any and all food but this past week, we received lots of raw fruits and vegetables that the kids love. Breakfast food switched from donuts to cereal and pop tarts. My kids are big breakfast eaters so a single donut or muffin is a snack but a bowl of cereal will last several hours. I am now very comfortable with our food storage. My plan for the summer is to continue to replace what we use and what I can find on sale but I am no longer afraid of running out even if I stopped shopping completely.
  4. Summer Break- I am officially on summer break until August 10th! The weather has limited my ability to enjoy but I have been able to read 4 additional books this week.
  5. Budget- We are continuing to save money on gas! I am going to do a budget rearranging in July due to the changes in health care cost. I am most excited to see our debt numbers decrease! I am planning a post this week with lots of details!